Living Well Kids Crew Meet Colby

Healthy eating can be made fun when learning with the Kids Crew!

Our Kids Crew is here encourage healthier choices and teach children about good nutrition. Kids Crew is based on MyPlate and each Kids Crew character represents a section of the MyPlate.

For the Dairy section of MyPlate, our Kids Crew character is Colby!

Illustration of Kids Crew character Colby the Polar bear

Colby is a hockey player and represents the Dairy food group.  Colby’s favorite food is cheese and he teaches us about the importance of dairy foods in building strong bones and muscles.

When selecting dairy foods, fluid milk, yogurt, and cheese are excellent choices.

Dairy foods contain 9 essential nutrients including: protein, calcium, phosphorus, vitamin A, vitamin D, niacin, pantothenic acid, riboflavin, and vitamin B12.   Dairy foods are part of  MyPlate and Kids Crew since consuming dairy foods is an easy way to get many nutrients in a smaller amount of calories.  By simply drinking 8 ounces of milk, our kids get an excellent mix of nutrients in a tasty and easy to consume food.

Just like Colby is the leader of the group, dairy foods help pull other foods together to create balanced meals and snacks.  For example:  making a soup with milk, a smoothie made with yogurt, or adding cheese to veggies.

A note on full fat vs skim dairy:  The current MyPlate recommendation for dairy is to choose low-fat options such as 1% milk.  From age 1 to 2 years, whole milk should be provided, but after reaching 2 years of age, low-fat dairy is a healthy choice.  However, recent studies have shown that individuals who consume full fat dairy are healthier compared to those who choose low-fat.  A fun fact is that whole milk is 97% fat free!  If whole milk had a percent, it would be 3%, so just a little more fat than 2% and 1% milks.  When it comes to choosing the amount of fat in your dairy foods, it’s up to you, but just be sure to balance dairy foods with other food choices.  For example, if you choose higher fat meats and processed foods often, choose low-fat dairy.  If you eat mostly lean meats and avoid processed foods, as long as you consume dairy in the appropriate serving sizes each day, whole fat dairy can be a healthy choice too!  The standard dairy serving sizes are 8 ounces of milk, 6 ounces of yogurt, and 1.5 ounces of cheese.  Consuming 3 servings of dairy foods each day, provides nutrients to support your body and good health.

If you have an allergy to or for another reason abstain from dairy foods, no worries – you can still be healthy without consuming dairy foods.  Dairy foods are not essential for good health, but again are a great way to get many nutrients in a smaller amount of calories compared to eating separate foods to get all of the essential nutrients that dairy foods contain.  If you do not consume dairy, soy milk is the next best option.  Soy milk contains the same amount of protein that dairy milk contains which is important for kids.  Soy milk is also fortified with vitamins and minerals to make it comparable to dairy.  Consuming 25 grams of soy protein each day can be part of a healthy balanced diet without negative health effects.  If you avoid soy, the next best options would be any of the nut or legume milks.  Unfortunately, almond milk, coconut milk, hemp milk, pea milk, etc, do not contain protein like dairy and soy milk.  If you choose one of these non-dairy options, be sure to include other protein foods with meals and snacks.